It’s no secret in the business world happy employees are more productive in the workplace. Long gone are the days when bosses ruled with an iron fist, without regard for their workers. Happy employees are not only more productive; they are more loyal and more creative. They make better leaders and are more willing to take on new responsibilities. That’s why today’s smart business leaders are always looking for ways to keep their employees happy.
Tips for Keeping Employees Happy
The first tactic that likely comes to mind is money but handing out raises or cash bonuses like candy on Halloween may not be good for your bottom line. And the effects are likely to be short term, especially if a good wage is the only perk of the job. No amount of money can truly make up for a poor work atmosphere. In fact, a recent survey found that 28% of employees would choose having a “better boss” over getting a $5,000 raise, and one in three workers would give up $5,000 of their annual salary just to be happier at work! Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to create a joyful and harmonious workplace environment, one that ensures that your happy employees are more productive—and that they don’t end up defecting to your industry rivals.
1. Offer flexible scheduling. Balancing work with the needs of family and other outside responsibilities is often a significant source of stress. Ensuring that employees can take time off occasionally without jeopardizing their jobs can go a long way toward keeping workers happy. In service-based businesses, for example, employers may be able to allow employees to set their own appointments with customers. Or employers can stagger start and end times to accommodate personal obligations. Although not all time-off requests can be honored, it is vital for employers to show that they recognize and support employees’ lives outside of work.
2. Foster positive communication, trust, and ownership. If you don’t already have a human resources department, consider establishing one to manage employee frustrations and conflicts. Offer varied opportunities (individual meetings, group sessions, etc.) for employees to share ideas and concerns. Ask for workers’ opinions, seek feedback about your performance as a leader, and encourage collaboration over competition. Make sure that workers understand the company mission so they can enjoy a sense of purpose beyond earning a paycheck. Finally, share your vision and values, including long-term goals and objectives, to establish a company culture and help employees feel that they are part of the big picture.
3. Greet errors and blunders with grace, and accept responsibility for your own mistakes. Address issues or mistakes calmly—no matter who is responsible—with a focus on resolution rather than blame. Additionally, acknowledge your own mistakes to create a climate of integrity and personal responsibility. This can make it less likely that workers will become defensive or try to bury their own mistakes.
4. Engage in team-building activities outside of work. Socialization opportunities like summer cookouts, sports, and holiday parties enhance staff relationships and promote a sense of connection. Even if you can’t get away from the office, small gestures like potluck lunches and birthday celebrations are ways to incorporate a little fun into the day.
5. Recognize effort and accomplishments. Human beings are hard-wired to respond to sincere praise and genuine appreciation. Look for small things that your employees do every day to keep the company going and say, “Thank you.” Workers who feel valued and appreciated are more likely to value and appreciate their jobs. Spread the news about significant feats too, whether in someone’s personal life or career. If you have a business newsletter, consider highlighting employees’ accomplishments there.
6. Regularly offer small incentives for meeting goals. Although too much competition among employees may not be good, small contests or group challenges can be a fun way to boost productivity. While cash bonuses are great, rewards don’t always have to break the bank! According to psychologist Ron Friedman, author of The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, small rewards given frequently make people happier than large-scale annual rewards. Something as simple as an afternoon off with pay can be surprisingly motivating.
7. Find ways to encourage healthy habits, including taking regular breaks. Workers who are healthy are more likely to be happier and more productive than their couch potato counterparts. One action that contributes to better physical and mental health is taking short breaks throughout the workday. Consider creating company wellness initiatives. For example, offer a healthy snack bar, provide smoking cessation tools and wellness education, schedule daily walking breaks or meetings, or offer gym memberships.
What to Avoid
Just as there are steps that cultivate a happy, productive work environment, there are also pitfalls to avoid if you hope to maintain a positive work culture. One of the biggest threats is negativity, which greatly contributes to a toxic work atmosphere. It spreads quickly and insidiously, sapping motivation and inducing apathy. Thankfully, there are ways to squelch it:
1. Do not set a poor example. As a leader in your organization, you set the tone. Make sure you convey respect and compassion. Avoid derisive or inappropriate remarks and demeaning or harsh criticism. If you speak respectfully to your staff, they are far more likely to treat their co-workers, their customers, and their bosses with respect.
2. Avoid publicly shaming or humiliating your employees. If redirection of an employee is necessary, do so privately, if possible. Public shaming corrodes everyone’s confidence and inhibits creativity, positive risk-taking, and initiative. It can also lead to resentment. Workers who feel humiliated will often end up working against you rather than with you.
3. Avoid playing favorites or pitting employees against each other. When there are conflicts, listen fully, and seek to understand both sides. Give those involved time to resolve the issue before you jump in. If you must get involved, guide them toward consensus or compromise.
Seek Support to Improve Your Own Happiness at Work
Happy employees are more productive, and so are happy business owners and managers! Running your own business comes with a lot of great perks, but it also brings its own share of stress, especially if you are in a demanding service-based business. Thankfully, there is a solution you may not have considered: owning a Neighborly franchise business!
Neighborly is proud to be a leader in the home services industry. With a unified code of values across our brands and a commitment to exceptional service (to both franchisees and customers), we have helped thousands of people find happiness as business owners. From marketing assistance to streamlined administrative systems to employee retention strategies, we have the answers to many of the most pressing challenges that today’s businesses face. In markets throughout the nation, Neighborly now has franchise opportunities open in many home service niches. Call (888) 387-8018 or contact us online to learn more!